Finding Inspiration in Everyday Americans!





On the long road ahead – view from inside a U-haul truck!

The Trips that Provide:

Several months ago, I helped my younger brother drive a truck from Southern California to Laredo, Texas and back, with a detour 2 hours north of Phoenix.  My brother has spent months at a time, alone on the road, away from family, sleeping mostly in his small truck, trying to keep his small moving business afloat to provide for his family.  And so I decided to lend him a hand, and to spend some time with him.

My younger brother - Mario

On the return trip, we had to rent a separate U-haul truck, and so we drove separate trucks.  On one particular night, we decided to stay at a Motel 6, in Wilcox, AZ to be better rested.  And in the morning we decided to get a breakfast at a McDonald’s next to the Motel 6.

Loose Change – Gets you Change:

Our total breakfast bill was $12.40 and most of it in loose change.  My brother apologetically told the cashier, “sorry, but I have to pay you mostly in loose change.”

As my brother was counting his change to pay our bill, Terry, the cashier very enthusiastically volunteered to help my brother count and stack his quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies.  It was close to $8 in loose change.

As they are counting the change, Terry said again very enthusiastically, “I save my change too, that’s how I take my family on vacation!”  I asked Terry to repeat her statement again, and she proudly said, “I save my change that’s how I take my family on vacation!”

And I replied, “Terry, do you realize how powerful your statement is?  It is very powerful!”  Terry looked at me with a surprised look, and thanked me.

We sat down to eat our breakfast, and I still had Terry’s statement in my mind.  And I also asked my brother, “Do you realize how powerful Terry’s statement is?”  He said, “I know how tasty my breakfast is, and you should eat your breakfast too, and find out!”

I said, “Listen, I think her statement is very powerful.  And it is also very inspiring!”  We talked about it for a few minutes, and as the crowd died down at the register, I said, “I am going to tell Terry how inspiring her statement is”.

I walked back to the register, and I caught Terry’s attention.  I said, “Terry, I know you are busy, but we were still talking about your comment over breakfast, and I want to tell you that I find your comment very powerful, and also very inspiring!”

We struck up a small conversation, and Terry was now curious as to why I thought so.

Unchanging Values and a Goal:

And I said, “Well first of all:

  • it is obvious that you set an objective and a goal for yourself,
  • which requires discipline,
  • over a long period of time, and
  • which involves your family in this.
  • Terry, you don’t say ‘I wish I had money to go on vacation’,
  • but you go about slowly but steadily saving your money to achieve your goal and objective.
  • You are teaching your kids this, and you are also teaching them ‘deferred gratification’,
  • while at the same time providing them for their basic necessities through your job here at McDonald’s.”

And I asked her about her favorite vacation.  Terry said, “Our family’s favorite vacation has been on a Princess Cruise ship.”

I said, “this is really amazing too, that your kids are involved in this, when some families ‘don’t have the time’ to sit down to dinner together, but you make the time with your family to save together.”

Generational Inspiration – It’s not in the genes, it’s in the Values

I asked Terry, “How and where did you learn to do this?”

I think Terry’s next statement was even more powerful and inspiring, she said, “I do this with my kids, because my mom used to this with us as we were growing up!”

I said to Terry,

“Wow, you are continuing on a family’s tradition with the values your mom gave you, and which I am sure your kids will also continue.  Terry, our family grew up with economic challenges, but the most important thing our mom gave us, like your mom, were the values and the work ethic to get ahead in life.  I know that your kids will remember your challenges and struggles.  But like my brothers and sister, I know they will also remember fondly your values and what you accomplished together as a family!”

Later on, I also said to my brother,

“You know this is a highlight of our trip.  Everyday Americans like you, like Terry have been struggling and sacrificing.  Americans are not looking for a hand out.  Americans are looking for a hand up.  Americans from all walks of life, in our case, Mexican-American, and in Terry’s Anglo-American, but all Americans nevertheless are looking for the opportunity to continue providing for their family’s needs, wants, and for their future with dignity!  Americans have the values and the work ethic, and will adapt to any system or challenge.  We just need to ensure that whatever system we have works for us, and not against us.

Who would have thought this, I came to McDonald’s for breakfast, and I walked out inspired by Terry, our cashier!”



My brother’s truck broke down towards the end of our trip, and we had to spend the night in the middle of the desert …and that is another story in itself.

Stuck overnight in the desert - laying out safety reflectors

A new day in the desert!

The morning rescue - The twists and turns of life!


Me - in my improvised "Reflecting" T-Shirt, so traffic could see me the night before as I laid out the Reflectors

No matter how long or dark the road, or what we encounter, there is always hope in the distance, we need to look for it!


About Francisco Barragan